Too Fat To Work – Is Obesity Considered A Workplace Disability?

If you feel that you have been fired from your job because you are overweight or obese then you may want to contact a team of highly experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys. Los Angeles based lawyers are some of the best in the business and can help. If recent figures are to be believed, over 60% of the American population is overweight and just under 34% of these are classed as clinically obese. This is continuing to grow year on year. This means that as a nation, our workforce is getting fatter. However does this mean that within the confines of the workplace that obesity is classed as a disability?

In a word...No! Federal courts have stated that obesity in itself is not a disability as this is a condition that actively prevents a person from carrying out normal daily tasks within the workforce. Although obesity can do this, it is not classed as a permanent state and therefore is not covered under the umbrella of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). What this basically means is that an employer may lawfully discriminate against an employee or indeed a job applicant on the basis of their weight.

Employers are understandably cautious about taking on a person who is somewhat overweight due to the fear factor of higher insurance costs, possible long-term health requirements and disability payments. As a result individuals who are overweight do have many hurdles to overcome either when at work, or looking to find work.

So are there any grounds for recourse at all?

An LA wrongful termination attorney explains that some obese workers have successfully filed claims for discrimination using the Americans With Disabilities Act, claiming that their obesity is in fact psychological in nature. This means that some states have now added overweight or obesity to their protected groups and as a result 'weight' is now part of the anti discriminatory laws in those states or counties. Examples include, the States of Michigan and Washington DC and the cities of San Francisco and Santa Cruz in California.

Clearly this is only the tip of the iceberg and many states don't recognise obesity discrimination at all, stating that being overweight is something that can be controlled and in many cases was self-induced. It is certainly a tough call for employers who in reality are looking for their best and fittest workforce, who are able to get the job done and are not likely to have time off work with heart problems, back problems or any other injuries that might be associated with being overweight.

So as an employer what can be done

It has to be said that the key is accommodation. For example as an employer, an overweight worker may well find it hard going on a particular job where they are standing all day, and as a result and on their agreement, it might be an idea to move them to a more sedentary position. This will not only be better for the worker, but also be more beneficial for the employer in terms of productivity. By accommodating the wishes and needs of a workforce, the employer can look to get the best out of their workforce. This way, if you are seen to be doing everything within your power to help the overweight worker and they still fail to perform, then you have grounds for termination.

If as an employee you have asked for accommodation and it is refused without the company even looking into it, then should you be fired, terminated or suspended then the company may be in violation of ADA laws or wrongful termination. This being the case they you should contact the services of a team of wrongful termination attorneys. Los Angeles is leading the way in cases such as these and as a result the right wrongful termination lawyer Los Angeles can indeed help with your claim.